Oh man. €3,500 ($4,650) is a ridiculous amount to spend on an external digital-to-analog (DAC) for your iPad, but the Zodiac looks so sweet I’m still tempted. The top-of-the-line Zodiac Gold itself will only set you back €3,000 alone, but when purchased with the optional Voltikus power supply, you hit the bigger figure.
To use the Zodiac, you hook it up to the iPad via USB, using the camera connection kit. It then goes to work on your lossless files (if you’re using MP3s, you’re wasting your money), converting them at a sample rate of up to 384 kHZ. The sample rate is shown on the old-school LED display.
And this thing is all about the looks. The two-kilo box is fashioned from beautiful brushed metal, with a giant volume knob and full-sized headphone jacks. Yes, headphone jacks. This pre-amp isn’t for hooking up to speakers. No, it’s a dedicated headphone amp. Even so, it’s totally not portable, and even comes with a remote control should you wish to buy yet more high-end audio gear to connect it to actual speakers.
If $4,650 is too rich for you, you might check out the low-end Zodiac, which can be had for a mere €1,600, or around $2,100. A steal.